For a long time, I thought I was doing online dating incorrectly and that’s why I was always so unhappy about it. Whenever I’d poast about it here, that feeling would be reinforced by all the (well-meaning) advice I received. I’ve deleted most of those poasts because they and their comments annoyed me in retrospect. After five and a half years of online dating (including some breaks), I gave it up for good around a year ago. As it turns out, I wasn’t doing it wrong ~ it’s just wrong for me and many others like me. Millions of people. Not talking about the creepy process of selecting our dates by specs like we buy a TV off Amazon, though that’s horrible enough. Not even talking about the brutal way we reject people because they have a scratch and we think we deserve a flawless model no matter how imperfect we are ourselves, nope. Talking about this:
Last year, Match.com released a volunteer-based study on recent dating trends. Although the survey wasn’t scientific, the results were revealing. Almost one in six singles (15%) reported feeling addicted to the online process of looking for a date. Millennials were 125% more likely to say they feel addicted to dating. Men were 97% more likely to feel addicted to dating than women, but 54% of women felt more burned out by the process. [Source]
It’s addicting for people who get addicted to things, and that’s a lot of people, myself included. Hell, I just became briefly addicted to Spider Solitaire after Windows 10 updated itself and installed it on my machine. OOH WHAT’S THIS? Must play game. I played 135 games. In less than a week. They sent me a notice that I’d flipped over 10,000 cards and I got very excited. It was a gold trophy. SHINY! Got a few more goodies. Then I thought wtf am I doing? I’m supposed to be writing a novel, hello. So, I deleted the entire app from my laptop.
Every time I joined a dating site I told myself I’d just be chill and let things unfold. But that isn’t my way. It’s just not. I had to check out the profile of every man in my area who fit my criteria. I had to try to figure out why someone rejected me if they viewed me and didn’t say hello. I’d make up my own stories about each one. I overanalyzed every chat. If a man criticized me in some way or was drive-by mean, I took it personally. It was hard to shrug that off. On and on. And these were the guys I never even met!
But people with OCD are particularly susceptible to spending too much time fussing over stuff in general (obviously), and for whatever reason technology tends to exacerbate that tendency. Online dating is like a game, isn’t it? Or a job hunt. We are driven to “win” or to achieve a goal, whatever that means to the individual, and we keep playing, clicking, swiping, liking, checking, turning over cards, whatever, until we get that shiny trophy. And then what? Well. There’s a question for another day.
In the meantime, here’s a study from 2016 that links addiction to mobile devices with depression and anxiety. Again, it’s more relevant for people who already have issues with OCD in the first place. An online dating site is that perfectly irresistible magic mix of toxic elements coming together for someone prone to anxiety. Definitely not a safe place for someone like me, which I always suspected. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, except for joining to begin with! Those sites fed my existing problems and that’s why I became miserable while dealing with them.
It wasn’t me; it was them. This last year has been so much better since I gave up online dating, and even better still in the last two months since I left Facebook and Instagram. Onward to more shiny goodness!